Planning for Crime Prevention: A Transatlantic Perspective

By Richard H. Schneider; Ted Kitchen | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

We have two primary objectives in writing this book. The first is to encourage planners and other professionals to take more seriously the relationship between crime prevention and the design of the built environment in all its aspects. The second is to contribute to moves which are trying to push work in this field towards more evidence-driven approaches, since too often ideas have been promoted loudly but with very little empirical basis, have waxed in the glow of fashion for a short period of time, and have then been replaced by something else with a similar pedigree including the lack of much empirical evidence to support it. Before going on to describe how we set about these tasks through the structure of this book, therefore, we would like to introduce these two primary objectives in a little more detail, because we return to them both on several occasions throughout.

One clearly observable phenomenon from some of the data we will be presenting later is the belief that crime prevention and the fear of crime matter very much to local citizens when they are considering the quality of life available to them in the areas where they live, work, shop, send their children to school and spend their leisure time. We will show how high up scoring systems about public concerns matters of this nature consistently appear in surveys carried out on both sides of the Atlantic. If planning and other related professional activities concerned with the quality of the environment are to substantiate claims about being 'for people', then it seems to us that one of the most basic requirements is that they should address themselves to the concerns of those people in relation to their environments and not just to the concerns and interests of the professionals themselves. And yet, with some clear exceptions, we would assert that the relationships between planning activities, crime prevention, and the design of the built environment have not registered as major concerns of planners and indeed typically do not feature very highly on planning education curricula.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that ideas in the field have often been promoted with dogmatic zeal in some quarters and dismissed as 'environmental determinism' with equal fervour in other quarters, leaving the majority of planners both confused and with little reliable guidance about these relationships. Our view is that there is no need to adopt either of these extreme positions to accept that in some situations and in varying degrees the nature and organisation of the built environment both have an effect on perceptions on the part of criminals about the

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